Effect Of Screen Time On Children’s development
The effect of screen time on children’s development cannot be overemphasized. When a child is exposed to screen time at an early age, it influences their ability to learn and interact with others and limits their exposure to the real world. Therefore, the effect of screen time on children development is that excessive screen time can negatively impact a child’s overall development
Young children, especially those under the age of 3, learn by exploring their environment, watching the adults in their lives, and then imitating them. Excessive screen time may inhibit children’s ability to observe, experience, and learn about the typical everyday activities they need to engage in and learn about the world.
How Harmful is screen time for children?
- Screen time can make it hard for children to sleep at night.
- It reduces a child’s attention span.
- Excessive screen time can leave less time for active and creative play.
- Increases a child’s risk of anxiety and depression.
- It increases a child’s risk of becoming obese since they are sitting and watching the screen instead of being physically active.
- These could lead to children making unhealthy food choices due to the commercials they watch on the screen.
- Screen time affects children’s ability to learn new things, as they are busy with the screen even when they go out.
- Screen time can also affect a child’s ability to interact with others.
Effects of screen time on children’s brain
The effect of screen time on children development is beyond what we can imagine, digital devices can interfere with everything from sleep to creativity
- Screen time desensitizes the brain’s reward system.
When children are hooked on electronics, especially during gaming, the brain releases so much dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. This dopamine scan of the brain looks like the use of cocaine; therefore, when the reward pathways are overused, they become less sensitive, and more and more stimulation is needed to experience pleasure. Meanwhile, dopamine is a critical factor for focus and motivation, so a small change in dopamine sensitivity can wreak havoc on how well a child feels and functions.
- Screen time disrupts sleep.
Since the light from screen devices mimics daytime, it tends to suppress melatonin, a sleep signal released by darkness. A few minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. When the body clock detaches, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation, since high arousal does not permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.
- Screen time can also overload the sensory system, fracture attention, and deplete mental reserves.
Often, what is behind a child’s explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment. By depleting mental energy with high visual and cognitive inputs. Screen time contributes to low reserves; one way to temporarily boost depleted reserves is to become angry, so meltdowns become a coping mechanism.
- Screen times reduce physical activity levels.
Time spent outdoors, especially interacting with the natural environment, can restore attention, lower stress, and reduce aggression. Thus, time spent with electronics reduces exposure to natural mood enhancers.
Guidelines for screen time
- Children under the age of two should have no screen time.
- Screen time should be reduced to 20 to 30 minutes a day for children over the age of 2.
- Older children’s screen time should be reduced to 1 to 2 hours a day.
How to reduce screen time
Your child’s screen time might be greater than you realize. Start by monitoring it and having a conversation with your child about the importance of sitting less and moving more. Also explain the screen time rules and their consequences.
Cutting down screen time to 2 hours a day could be hard for some children since it has been a large part of their daily routine, but you can help your children by being consistent with the rules and their consequences.
Below are some rules that might help.
To reduce screen time
- Remove the pads, TV, or computer from your children’s bedroom.
- Do Not allow your child to watch TV during mealtime.
- Decide which programs to watch beforehand and turn off the TV when the programs are over.
- Suggest other activities for your child to keep them active.
- Consistently record how much time is spent in front of the screen and try to spend the same amount of time being physically active.
- If it is hard to turn off the TV, try using the sleep function to turn it off automatically.
- As a parent, be a good role model and carry out the above routine as well. This will encourage your children to do the same.